Duque welcomes WHO emergency use listing of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 01 2021 01:39 PM

Health Secretary Francisco Duque speaks to the crowd during a visit at Divisoria in Manila on December 3, 2020. The Secretary together with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno visited the area to remind shoppers about the importance of abiding to the minimum public health standards as the Christmas season approaches. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday said the World Health Organization’s decision to list Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use will help fast-track the Philippines’ approval process.

“The one from WHO is a welcome addition to the regulatory approvals and therefore that would be a lot easier for the local FDA (Food and Drug Administration), to already review all the documents and assess the risk benefit ratio of the said candidate vaccine,” he said during a televised press conference at the East Avenue Medical Center.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo also told ABS-CBN News that the WHO emergency use listing "is very significant.”

“Our experts are currently evaluating the documents submitted by Pfizer as outlined in our guidelines. I will issue a decision on the application as soon as all the regulatory requirements and procedures are completed,” he said in a statement.

Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine were among the first to declare its efficacy rate against COVID-19. With an efficacy rate of 95%, their vaccine was soon approved for emergency use by the United States and the United Kingdom.

They are also the only one so far that has applied for emergency use in the Philippines.

The FDA said it might be able to issue emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine by January.

With the emergency use authority powers granted to the FDA, the Philippines would be able to expedite its approval process for developmental drugs, especially for COVID-19.

The WHO on Friday said the Pfizer vaccine passed its safety criteria and has proven that its benefits outweigh the risks.

Duque was previously criticized for supposedly not being able to clinch a deal with Pfizer. This was denied by Duque who said the application still needed to undergo due process. He also said Pfizer never promised to provide the country 10 million doses as claimed by critics.

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